This year, the Sustainability Strategy Committee agreed that travel should be a priority area of work. Business travel makes up 10% of the university’s carbon footprint – nearly as much as our electricity consumption – and there are realistic switches of practices that could reduce this significantly.




2022–23 achievements

Sustainable travel policy

In March 2023, the Travel Working Group was formed to develop the policy. The working group (made up of academics, operational teams, communications, and trade union representatives) looked at all areas of sustainable travel (such as active travel, electric vehicles, and car parking). The group focused on business travel in the first instance due to the potential for high impact.

We engaged with the university community over the summer, launched with an ‘In Conversation With’ our President, Hugh Brady, and staff to help shape the policy so it would be practical to implement. The Sustainable Travel Policy is to be launched in the spring term 2024.

Our commitments

Carbon emissions from air travel reduced by 25% per staff FTE by 2025–26, compared to 2017–18 baseline.

Progress against targets

Reducing air travel carbon emissions (orange)

We have developed a Sustainable Travel Policy, which commits to monitoring our air travel every six months to review our position and whether our carbon emissions have been reduced. We have made progress by establishing frameworks to enable change, but as yet, it is too early to see results. The Sustainable Travel Policy will be effective from spring term 2024.

Forward look towards 2024

Sustainable Travel Working Group – next priorities.

The remit of the Sustainable Travel Working Group extends beyond business travel at Imperial and as we move to implementation phase of the policy, the group will look at making the travel policy operational, as well as starting to develop an Active Travel Action Plan and, exploring options for carbon pricing along with other incentives and initiatives to enable take-up.


Following the publication of the Sustainable Food and Drink Policy at the end of 2022, the Catering team have been focusing on implementing the policy and have made great improvements over the past academic year.


2022–23 achievements

Imperial College London were finalists for the Sustainability Award at The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) Awards 2023. This recognised a vast array of sustainability initiatives that Campus Operations have achieved, including:

  • 47% reduction in beef consumption since 2017 (a 2021 report found that a complete removal of red meats from our menus could provide a 20% reduction in total carbon emissions).
  • 50% reduction in cooking oil consumption through installing a new filtering system saving around 16,000 litres of cooking oil a year.
  • Increasing proportion of plant-based food.
  • Eliminated 850,000 plastic cups per year from campuses.
  • Introduction of the MiCup initiative where customers can pay a deposit for a reusable cup for takeaway drinks, to then return the cups to outlets where they are cleaned and made ready for reuse.
  • A large reduction in single-use cups due to the 25p levy (formerly approx. 2,750 were used per day).

Following this, TUCO featured Imperial in their November magazine with a three-page spread titled ‘Imperial’s Sustainability Triumph’.

Progress on our targets

Elimination of beef (Green, on target)

We have committed to the elimination of beef from our menus by 2025–26, following a year-on-year reduction of 35%. The catering and procurement teams are resolute in delivering this target.

 Kitchen operations (Green, on target)

The full electrification of the central production kitchen, subject to feasibility, as part of a major renovation. The project has started, a Project Manager and a Quantity Surveyor have been appointed. The feasibility study will soon be underway.

Accreditation (Orange)

The exploration of external food accreditation, in line with the People and Planet criteria. Client lead has been appointed (Special Projects and Sustainability Manager). Feasibility and delivery to be explored in H1 2024.

Forward look to 2024

  • Campus Operations will continue to proceed with major refurbishment project for the central production kitchen, including making it full electric.
  • Campus Operations will continue to pursue sustainable food policy objectives, including the trend towards majority plant-based menus and elimination of beef.
  • We will be exploring the feasibility of providing water fountains on campus to further reduce single-use plastic in the form of water bottles.